The inimitable Jonathan Quince (who I really do believe should just officially change his name to that) provided some lovely comments to my 100 sexy things post, not the least of which was this question:
78. Forgive me for sounding ignorant of the workings of female anatomy; but if I might inquire, what’s wrong with the concept of vaginal orgasm? As far as I can tell, the nerve endings on the inside do work…
My response would be far too long for that tiny little comments box, so I’ve opened a whole new post for the subject. 🙂
First, a definition: the term “vaginal orgasm”, as I refer to it in my last post, refers to the concept introduced by Freud in the early 20th century.
Freud contended that the clitoral orgasm was adolescent, and that upon puberty, when women began having intercourse with men, women should transfer the center of orgasm to the vagina. The vagina, it was assumed, was able to produce a parallel, but more mature, orgasm than the clitoris.
Heh. Hence my problem with it. Kind of like magically transferring my toothache to my foot, so I can chew.
Also from The Myth, which really does explain the conundrum far better than I:
Frigidity has generally been defined by men as the failure of women to have vaginal orgasms. Actually the vagina is not a highly sensitive area and is not constructed to achieve orgasm. It is the clitoris which is the center of sexual sensitivity and which is the female equivalent of the penis.
[W]hile the stimulation may be psychological, the orgasm manifests itself physically. Thus, while the cause is psychological, the effect is still physical, and the orgasm necessarily takes place in the sexual organ equipped for sexual climax, the clitoris. The orgasm experience may also differ in degree of intensity – some more localized, and some more diffuse and sensitive. But they are all clitoral orgasms.
My problem, then, is not that I believe it’s impossible for women to have an orgasm without some kind of stimulation of the clitoris – just like some men can come while being spanked or dressing up in naughty clothes or having their ass reamed, some women can come without having any direct or indirect stimulation of their clitoris. Though I do think it’s more rare. Women who are orgasmic through intercourse may be lucky enough to have a narrower gap between the clitoris and the vagina, which means it receives greater indirect or diffuse pressure on every thrust. I have known one or two women like this.
The problem is the perception that another body part is doing the orgasming rather than the sexual organ whose function it is to orgasm. If a man comes in his pants thinking about something, is it a “brain” orgasm? Of course not. The proof is down there for him to see – his cock was hard, then it released semen, and now it’s softer. His orgasm was in his penis, regardless of the method used to bring him to orgasm.
And so it is with women. Sadly, Freud’s teachings were widely adopted by doctors, psychiatrists, and pop culture in general.
Keep in mind the most important part of this concept, the one that still resides in many minds (men’s, and women’s) today: a woman is not a real woman, frigid, something wrong with her, if she cannot manage to have this “vaginal” orgasm. Even today, it can bring worries of a sense of failure to women. I had a girlfriend ask me about it just the other week, so don’t think it’s amusing archaic thinking. It still persists today.
Those interested would probably enjoy reading The Myth in its entirety at the link above. While there are parts of it I don’t agree with as much – you have to remember that this was considered “radical feminist writing” when it was penned thirty years ago, and goes into discussion that I don’t think holds true of many of my readers (that men are threatened by female sexuality, or refuse to acknowledge women’s equality) – there are some illuminating concepts here for people who haven’t been exposed to women’s studies before.
And for the record, just so everyone who reads this knows the deal – women do not, in the majority, reach orgasm via intercourse. Statistically. From The-Clitoris.com:
New Study: Glamour Magazine, October 2000
Based on 1,500 women’s responses to an online poll at Glamour.com
In response to the question, “Do you need extra stimulation to orgasm?” the women responded:
I need “a hand” 38%
I can do it just from intercourse 28%
I need oral sex 21%
I need a vibrator 3%
Which backs up Shere Hite’s findings thirty years earlier, who found 26% of women could orgasm via intercourse.
There. Did that help to explain my position a little better? 🙂